TEXAS’S WEATHER and power crisis continued to leave millions shivering across the state Wednesday even as the state’s Republican leaders seemingly lied about the reasons for the disaster. They blamed the blackouts on the state’s supposed overreliance on wind power and warned that transitioning to renewable electricity would spread Texas’s problems across the nation. Nonsense.
The Texas fiasco offers many lessons about keeping the lights on — lessons that Congress and state leaders must act on in the coming months. Not among them is the need to cancel a transition to cleaner sources of energy.
Frozen wind turbines represent only a small fraction of the problem in Texas. The real failure was a lack of preparation. Wind power generally slumps during the Texas winter, so state regulators do not assume they will get much from that power source. Rather, their plans rely heavily on natural gas power plants — and they are the predominant culprits in the current emergency. Across the state, the deep freeze shut down equipment to supply and burn natural gas for electricity, just as demand for electric heating surged and as demand for natural gas for home heating spiked. Freezing also forced one of the state’s nuclear power plants offline. If the state had been more reliant on coal power, as it was a decade ago, frozen coal piles could well have led to similar power plant failures.
Opinion: Texas shows that when you cannot govern, you lie. A lot.
. . . if your party is hostile to government and exercising regulatory power because it is beholden to a donor class and right-wing ideologues, you will not be prepared for disasters when they strike.
And that brings us to Texas. The Post reports, “As millions of people across Texas struggled to stay warm Tuesday amid massive cold-weather power outages, Gov. Greg Abbott (R) directed his ire at one particular failure in the state’s independent energy grid: frozen wind turbines.” There is one problem: That is not remotely true (as you might have guessed from a state with an enormous oil and gas sector). “The governor’s arguments were contradicted by his own energy department, which outlined how most of Texas’s energy losses came from failures to winterize the power-generating systems, including fossil fuel pipelines.”
In other words, rotten policy and management are to blame. “What has sent Texas reeling is not an engineering problem, nor is it the frozen wind turbines blamed by prominent Republicans,” The Post reports. “It is a financial structure for power generation that offers no incentives to power plant operators to prepare for winter. In the name of deregulation and free markets, critics say, Texas has created an electric grid that puts an emphasis on cheap prices over reliable service.”